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Will Italy's sympathy for Berlusconi allow him to avoid corruption trials?

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A return to immunity for Berluconi?

Shortly after being re-elected prime minister last year, Mr Berlusconi’s center-right party pushed a law through parliament, where they enjoy a majority in both chambers, which gave him immunity from prosecution in office.

But in a heavy blow, Italy’s highest court slapped it down in October this year, ruling that it was unconstitutional and went against the principle that all citizens should be equal before the law.

Now Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party wants to introduce a revised law which would reinstate his immunity, with a bill expected to be presented to parliament this week.

The government also wants to introduce a new law which would limit the duration of trials to six years. According to Italy’s magistrates’ association, it could put an end to up to 100,000 trials which are slowly making their way through the country’s ponderous judicial system.

Either of the measures would enable Berlusconi to wriggle out of two corruption trials which were reactivated after the immunity law was quashed.

Both laws now stand a better chance of success than before the attack because widespread sympathy for Berlusconi has put the opposition, center-left Democratic Party, and opponents of the law within his own bloc, in an extremely difficult position.

The sympathy factor

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